PEI

P.E.I. man fined for failing to self-isolate due to COVID-19

An Island man has failed in his attempt to beat a $1,000 fine for failing to self-isolate back in April. The Crown prosecutor presented testimony from five witnesses, and the man was found guilty after a court trial Monday.

Christopher Wayne Rush, 29, found guilty after trial

An Island man had been ordered to self-isolate at a hotel in Charlottetown for 14-days, awaiting admission to an addiction-recovery facility. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A P.E.I. man has failed in his effort to fight a $1,000 fine for failing to self-isolate due to COVID-19.

Christopher Wayne Rush, 29, of Rustico was found guilty after trial Monday in Charlottetown provincial court.

Crown prosecutor Emily Campbell presented video evidence and testimony from five witnesses, including the night manager of the hotel where the April 24 incident took place.

Court heard Rush returned to P.E.I. from the mainland on April 15. He'd been in an addictions treatment facility in Nova Scotia and was on his way to St. Eleanor's House, an addiction recovery residence in Summerside. Court heard that Health PEI provided Rush with a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Charlottetown to complete the required 14-days of self-isolation.

'We wanted to keep an eye on him'

Enforcement officers were called to the hotel April 24 after the health department received information from hotel staff that Rush was not self-isolating.

"We were worried about him. He seemed like a nice guy and we wanted to keep an eye on him," said hotel manager David MacDonald in testimony on the witness stand.

Rush and other people in quarantine were staying on the third floor of the hotel. They were supposed to stay in their rooms, but were also allowed to walk the hotel grounds outside.

MacDonald told court he routinely watched hotel security cameras at the front desk, and several times he saw Rush walking the corridor of the second floor.

MacDonald testified he also saw Rush "make contact" with the driver of a car in the hotel parking lot.

"This was early in the pandemic and we were really concerned. We were watching like hawks," MacDonald testified.

MacDonald told court that on the night of the incident, Rush had come to the front desk to ask for a box of tissues for his room. MacDonald testified quarantined guests were instructed to phone the desk for supplies. 

Video evidence presented in court showed Rush walking down the second floor corridor at about 1 a.m. the night of the incident, and pausing for several seconds at the door of one room, then walking back the way he came.

Rush defended himself in court. He did not testify, but during cross-examination of witnesses, he told court he frequently went outside the hotel to smoke because his room did not have a balcony.

Rush told court that on the night of the incident, he wandered onto the wrong floor by mistake.

Chief judge Nancy Orr ruled him guilty for violating an order to self-isolate under the Public Health Act.

'Not a medical emergency'

"This was not a medical emergency. He was not in dire straits," said Orr. "Self-isolation requirements are very strict."

He has six months to pay the fine with an option to perform community service work to reduce the amount of the fine.

Rush told the judge he would have preferred to wait to pay the fine "until COVID is over and I can get a job."

Outside court, Chris Rush told CBC News he needed more support while self-isolating.

"I was kind of set up for failure," said Rush.

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